Create A Drop Dow List
Microsoft Office Training
• Drop down lists are a great addition to a
worksheet making data more efficient and
also restricting what values can be entered
into a cell.
• The procedure for creating a drop down list is
fairly simple to follow.
There are 3 stages involved:
• Creating a list of values you want to appear in
the list – normally on a separate sheet in the
• Naming the list
• Using Data Validation to create the drop down
• Start with a new workbook which has at least
• Switch to Sheet2, this is where you will create
your list of values. You may want to consider
the order you enter the values as this will be
the order they will appear in the drop down.
Enter your values, one value in each cell, working down a
column. I’m going to list some UK cities, you might think of
another list that relates more closely to what you do.
• Now you are going to name your list. If you
have not named cells or ranges previously I’ll
give some explanation as to why we want to
• Currently my list is in the range Sheet2!A1:A7.
It’s going to be a lot easier to refer to this list
later on if we give it a meaningful name as a
substitute for this current range description.
• How do we name this range? First thing to do is to select the
list – I’ll assume you know how to do this: make sure each cell
that contains a list value is selected.
• Now find the Name Box which is to the left of the formula
bar. The Name Box will show the cell address of the first cell
you selected in the range. In my example this would be A1.
Click into the Name Box and the cell address gets highlighted;
now you are ready to type the name you want to give your
• I am going to call my list cities. Once you have typed your
name you must use the Enter key on your keyboard to
confirm, otherwise the name will not be stored.
Names are not case sensitive but they do
need to follow some basic rules:
• Names must start with a letter or an
underscore but can contain a number
• Names cannot contain spaces but can
contain underscores to separate words
• Names cannot contain any other characters
other than underscores, letters or numbers
• Switch to Sheet1 and click into the cell that you want the drop
list to appear in. If you want the list to be available in more
than one cell, select those cells as well.
• Now click Data > Validation. This opens the Data Validation
dialogue box. For Allow: select List. Now click into the
Source: box and press the F3 key on your keyboard. F3 shows
the Paste Name box. Select the name you created from this
box and click OK.
• The source box now reads =cities for my example. Click on
OK in the Data Validation box and you are done: your cell will
have a drop down list.
• If you want to prevent users or even yourself entering any
value other than a value from your list, select the cell and go
back to Data > Validation. Then click on the Error Alert tab.
The default Stop style error alert prevents the entry of values
that are not in the list but also displays an error message if an
invalid value is attempted.
• The Title and the Error Message appear in a box when a user
enters such a value. In my example the Title might be City
and the Error Message Sorry you must select a city from the
list, your entry is not valid.
• Click on OK and test you error message.
• As a last thought you might want to think
about hiding the sheet that holds the named
list – Sheet2. That way things look a bit tidier
and the list is likely to be inadvertently
changed or deleted.
• Select the the Sheet2 tab and then click
Format > Sheet > Hide.
• For future reference to Unhide the sheet click
Format > Sheet > Unhide.
• See this Excel training tutorial on the Blue